Courtesy of 1999’s sleeper comedy hit, “American Pie”, audiences were introduced to how naughty ‘band geeks’ can be (I had band friends later confirm that this portrayal was accurate). The poster child for this newly discovered freaky reputation was actress Alyson Hannigan, who portrayed the deceptively nerdy Michelle. Because of Alyson, you will probably never look at a flute the same way again.
Before Alyson showed off the raunchy side of ‘nerd chic’, she had been a fixture in front of the camera for nearly two decades. Born in Washington, D.C. in 1974, Alyson began appearing in commercials when she was just 4 years old. Recognizing that she had a lot of potential, her parents moved to Hollywood when she was 11 in order to be closer to the showbiz industry. Her first major role occurred in 1988 when she starred in “My Stepmother Is an Alien”, where she performed alongside Dan Aykroyd, Kim Basinger and eventual on-screen boyfriend, Seth Green.
Following that initial success, Alyson had guest spots on several popular television shows, such as “Picket Fences” and “Roseanne”, while also being the lead in the short-lived series “Free Spirit”. It was in 1997 that all of Alyson’s fortunes changed. That year, the WB Network launched the supernatural series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar (and very loosely based on forgettable 1992 film of the same name).
Alyson portrayed Willow Rosenberg, a devoted friend and ally of Gellar’s Buffy Summers. She was initially the girlfriend of Oz (Seth Green) before embarking on one of the pioneering relationships in television. After Green left the show to focus on his movie career, Willow ended up falling in love with Tara Maclay (Amber Benson), in one of the first regular on-screen lesbian couples in television. It may not seem like much of a big deal today for TV. However, when you remember that this was not long after Ellen publicly came out, it was a risky move. It was also very important because it showed an open, positive LGBT relationship that many could connect with.
In the middle of her run on “Buffy”, Alyson scored her signature role as Michelle Flaherty in the “American Pie” series. While I’m sure the initial film was just viewed as a throwaway summer laugh-fest, with Alyson’s character as one of many interchangeable parts, the film’s surprising success (and Alyson’s endearing performance of Michelle) led to two immediate sequels (and another one about a decade later) and Michelle becoming one of the central characters.
Lest you think Alyson’s brand of humor had a limited shelf-life, 2005 saw her next major move. She took the role of Lily on the wildly popular ensemble comedy “How I Met Your Mother”. This ratings darling scored Alyson two People’s Choice Awards and moved her Q-rating into a status that can only be described as legen-wait for it-dary. Despite all of this on-screen success, Alyson still found time to get married (to “Buffy” co-star, Alexis Denisof) and have two daughters.
You can get some more information about Alyson on this fan site: http://alyson-hannigan.net/
You can find her on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/alydenisof
She’s on Instagram at: http://instagram.com/alydenisof